• Hello, Grape Leaves!
    May 12, 2011
    Hello, Grape Leaves!
    The other day I was talking to my aunt in Baku over skype and she asked me what I had cooked for the day. “Dolma,” I exclaimed. “From canned grape leaves?” “Why? From fresh,” I said happily. “What? Fresh leaves?” Clearly, my aunt was shocked. “This time of year?” I teased her saying how our grapevine is sprawling and how we pick its leaves often and make dolma and how delicious dolma from fresh grape leaves is (which she knows, of course, but I got...
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  • How to Skin Raw Almonds
    June 12, 2009
    How to Skin Raw Almonds
    Some recipes call for use of skinned almonds. This is very easy to do at home. Here’s how: 1. Put the almonds in a pot and pour boiling water over them to barely cover their tops. 2. Let the almonds sit in the water for about 2 minutes. Do not keep them there for too long, or they will lose their crispiness and will be too soft. 3. Drain off the water, pat dry the nuts with paper towels or a kitchen towel and slip...
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  • How to Make Saffron Water
    March 12, 2008
    How to Make Saffron Water
    Saffron (in Azeri: Zeferan) is widely used in Azerbaijani cuisine to add flavor and color to the food. When buying saffron, go for threads instead of powder, as they stay fresh and aromatic longer than the powder. Saffron water is usually added to rice pilaffs, some meat dishes, soups and sweets. Here’s how you treat this rare spice before it is added to your dish. Note that the amount of saffron and water differs from recipe to recipe, so refer to your recipe for the...
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  • How to Peel Chestnuts
    March 11, 2008
    How to Peel Chestnuts
    Chestnuts are widely used in Azerbaijani cuisine, especially in Rice Pilaffs. They make a perfect snack when roasted, too. Here’s how you peel them to use in your recipes. 1. There are two methods you can choose from to treat the chestnuts before peeling them. Option 1: With a sharp knife, cut an “X” on the flat side of each chestnut (Picture 1). Once you have penetrated the leather-like shell, it will feel hollow. Do not penetrate the nut itself. Option 2: Another method is...
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